Real ID Act

Following up on Miguel’s post about the Real ID act that supposedly is passing through Congress via a clever hack, in fact the Real ID Act is its own act in its own right, and it’s not merely a hidden provision on a giant spending bill (although it seems to be attached to another bill now).

It also hasn’t exactly been slipping through Congress unnoticed. On Feb. 10, the House voted on the bill. It passed 261/161, with 96% of Republicans in favor and 78% of Democrats against. It was also discussed in the House on at least seven occasions.

Now, while it may be true that senators won’t get a chance to vote on the bill separately (and, yes, thanks to the Republican leadership), in all likelihood it wouldn’t make a difference anyway.

What I find most interesting about some of this Real ID debate is that no one is linking anyone to the text of the legislation itself (see the first link), as if everyone wants to be able to make wild claims about the bill that support their side without any factual evidence. In fact there’s no need to rely on their spin. Read the act and form your own opinion.

Here’s an excerpt from the official *summary* of the bill:

Title II – Improved Security for Driver’s Licenses and Personal Identification Cards

Section 202 – Prohibits Federal agencies from accepting State issued driver’s licenses or identification cards unless such documents are determined by the Secretary to meet minimum security requirements, including the incorporation of specified data, a common machine-readable technology, and certain anti-fraud security features.

Sets forth minimum issuance standards for such documents that require: (1) verification of presented information; (2) evidence that the applicant is lawfully present in the United States; and (3) issuance of temporary driver’s licenses or identification cards to persons temporarily present that are valid only for their period of authorized stay (or for one year where the period of stay is indefinite).

Section 203 – Requires States, as a condition of receiving grant funds or other financial assistance under this title, to participate in the interstate compact regarding the sharing of driver’s license data (the Driver License Agreement).

Section 204 – Amends the Federal criminal code to prohibit trafficking in actual as well as false authentication features for use in false identification documents, document-making implements, or means of identification.

Requires the Secretary to enter into the appropriate aviation security screening database information regarding persons convicted of using false driver’s licenses at airports.

Section 205 – Authorizes the Secretary to make grants to assist States in conforming to the minimum standards set forth in this title.

Section 206 – Gives the Secretary all authority to issue regulations, set standards, and issue grants under this title. Gives the Secretary of Transportation all authority to certify compliance with such standards.
Authorizes the Secretary to grant States an extension of time to meet the minimum document requirements and issuance standards of this title, with adequate justification.

And, by the way, next time Miguel mentions Noam Chomsky’s political views, I’m going to follow up with a rant about his linguistic views. 🙂

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